The Chicago strike has opened up so many long-buried issues that are reaching the national media. While right wingers and many Democrats have attacked teachers unions for not going along with reform, the silent majority of union members have criticized the union leaders from the other end for going along with too many reforms. Finally, our side, led by the Chicago CORE group that leads the union, are getting a hearing.
Note how the conversation has shifted. Times. In today's Wall St. Journal piece I posted earlier, there are quite a few important points made.
Ms. Weingarten, while showing solidarity with Ms. Lewis on Tuesday, has embodied a more collaborative approach to national school reform. She has supported teacher contracts—including one in Cleveland—that effectively weakened tenure rules and linked teacher evaluations to test scores.How amazing that Karen Lewis, barely involved in the union until 4 years ago, emerges as a national leader. It shows you how many potential leaders we have sitting in classrooms. I can attest to that from my own experience in meeting the always amazing Julie Cavanagh, who will be bringing 10 week old Jack to his first UFT Chapter Leader meeting today, only a little over 3 years ago when she became active, not as much in the union at that time, but in the charter school invasion struggles. I remember bringing up the union the first time I met her at a meeting at her house and she disagreed with me. I knew that was the start of a beautiful friendship. Over the next 6 months it didn't take long for her to start making all the connections. I believe there are many Karens and Julies sitting out there ready to go. What a difference from the old tired union bureaucrats. These are real teachers and Karen's amazing leadership emerges from the fact she thinks like a teacher.
The Chicago teachers' previous contract, negotiated by Ms. Lewis's predecessor, gave teachers a total wage increase of 19% to 46% over the contract period from 2007 to 2012, according to a fact finders report issued in July. Chicago's average teacher salary is now $71,000 a year, according to the city.
But some teachers were angry because they felt the union didn't do enough to prevent the closure of dozens of poorly performing schools and increase the number of charter schools, which generally hire nonunion teachers.
Ms. Lewis "has thrown down a national gauntlet, of sorts, and said mayors and other reformers won't define teaching—teachers will define it," said Barbara Radner, director of the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University. "This is about the soul of teaching and who is going to define it going forward."
Ms. Lewis, the daughter of teachers, had been little involved in the union over two decades of teaching. In 2008, she joined the fledgling Caucus of Rank and File Educators. --- Wall St. Journal
More news: Pay of Chicago teachers and selected others:
A reminder to me for later before I head off to the city, I need to touch on the strike issue of supporting the Chicago equivalent of ATRs except these people were laid off when their schools closed. The CTU is taking a stand for them -- that they be hired first before newbies. Is Rahm holding out to make sure TFA gets its dibs? Really, is the TFA support mechanism a backdrop of this strike.
The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.